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-- Installation --
-- Getting Started --
-- Simple Queries --
--Database Intro--
-- More Queries --
-- Multiple Tables --
-- Batch Mode --
-- Using with PHP --

-- PHP and MySQL --
-- All PHP Content --

Multiple Tables

The pet table keeps track of which pets you have. If you want to record other information about them, such as events in their lives like visits to the vet or when litters are born, you need another table. What should this table look like?

  • It needs to contain the pet name so you know which animal each event pertains to.
  • It needs a date so you know when the event occurred.
  • It needs a field to describe the event.
  • If you want to be able to categorize events, it would be useful to have an event type field.

Given these considerations, the CREATE TABLE statement for the event table might look like this:

mysql> CREATE TABLE event (name VARCHAR(20), date DATE,
    -> type VARCHAR(15), remark VARCHAR(255));

As with the pet table, it's easiest to load the initial records by creating a tab-delimited text file containing the information:




4 kittens, 3 female, 1 male




5 puppies, 2 female, 3 male




3 puppies, 3 female




needed beak straightened




broken rib












Gave him a new chew toy




Gave him a new flea collar




First birthday

Load the records like this:

mysql> LOAD DATA LOCAL INFILE "event.txt" INTO TABLE event;

Based on what you've learned from the queries you've run on the pet table, you should be able to perform retrievals on the records in the event table; the principles are the same. But when is the event table by itself insufficient to answer questions you might ask?

Suppose you want to find out the ages of each pet when they had their litters. The event table indicates when this occurred, but to calculate age of the mother, you need her birth date. Because that is stored in the pet table, you need both tables for the query:

mysql> SELECT, (TO_DAYS(date) - TO_DAYS(birth))/365 AS age, remark
    -> FROM pet, event
    -> WHERE = AND type = "litter";
| name   | age  | remark                      |
| Fluffy | 2.27 | 4 kittens, 3 female, 1 male |
| Buffy  | 4.12 | 5 puppies, 2 female, 3 male |
| Buffy  | 5.10 | 3 puppies, 3 female         |

There are several things to note about this query:

  • The FROM clause lists two tables because the query needs to pull information from both of them.
  • When combining (joining) information from multiple tables, you need to specify how records in one table can be matched to records in the other. This is easy because they both have a name column. The query uses WHERE clause to match up records in the two tables based on the name values.
  • Because the name column occurs in both tables, you must be specific about which table you mean when referring to the column. This is done by prepending the table name to the column name.

You need not have two different tables to perform a join. Sometimes it is useful to join a table to itself, if you want to compare records in a table to other records in that same table. For example, to find breeding pairs among your pets, you can join the pet table with itself to pair up males and females of like species:

mysql> SELECT,,,, p1.species
    -> FROM pet AS p1, pet AS p2
    -> WHERE p1.species = p2.species AND = "f" AND = "m";
| name   | sex  | name   | sex  | species |
| Fluffy | f    | Claws  | m    | cat     |
| Buffy  | f    | Fang   | m    | dog     |
| Buffy  | f    | Bowser | m    | dog     |

In this query, we specify aliases for the table name in order to be able to refer to the columns and keep straight which instance of the table each column reference is associated with.

Getting information about databases and tables

What if you forget the name of a database or table, or what the structure of a given table is (e.g., what its columns are called)? MySQL addresses this problem through several statements that provide information about the databases and tables it supports.

You have already seen SHOW DATABASES, which lists the databases managed by the server. To find out which database is currently selected, use the DATABASE() function:

| menagerie  |

If you haven't selected any database yet, the result is blank.

To find out what tables the current database contains (for example, when you're not sure about the name of a table), use this command:

| Tables in menagerie |
| event               |
| pet                 |

If you want to find out about the structure of a table, the DESCRIBE command is useful; it displays information about each of a table's columns:

mysql> DESCRIBE pet;
| Field   | Type        | Null | Key | Default | Extra |
| name    | varchar(20) | YES  |     | NULL    |       |
| owner   | varchar(20) | YES  |     | NULL    |       |
| species | varchar(20) | YES  |     | NULL    |       |
| sex     | char(1)     | YES  |     | NULL    |       |
| birth   | date        | YES  |     | NULL    |       |
| death   | date        | YES  |     | NULL    |       |

Field indicates the column name, Type is the data type for the column, Null indicates whether or not the column can contain NULL values, Key indicates whether or not the column is indexed and Default specifies the column's default value.

If you have indexes on a table, SHOW INDEX FROM tbl_name produces information about them.

Extracted from the MySQL Documentation

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